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Queen Camilla's immediate change following 'surprise' engagement to King Charles

The monarch proposed to his long-term partner in February 2005

Queen Camilla wearing a red dress and her new engagement ring
Nichola Murphy
Deputy Lifestyle Editor
11 April 2024
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It's been nineteen years since King Charles, 75, and Queen Camilla, 76, surprised fans (and staff!) by announcing their engagement. 

Royal butler Grant Harrold, who worked for the monarch between 2004 and 2011, revealed the couple's engagement announcement was even kept secret from those who lived and worked at Clarence House. But the moment it became common knowledge, Camilla made one key change – increased security.

Prince Charles getting in a car with Camilla and his bodyguard Peter Brown© Tim Graham
The then-Prince Charles was pictured with his bodyguard Peter Brown weeks before he announced his engagement

Transitioning from the then Prince of Wales' long-term partner to the future Queen came with added public interest and risk, which was not something the couple took lightly.

Opening up about Charles and Camilla's engagement, he said in an interview with Guides For Brides: "We were all surprised! I remember serving him his breakfast and it was like any typical day. I said goodbye to him as he headed off to London and then we all heard about the engagement on the news. I remember thinking: 'He never mentioned this to me at breakfast!'

"I also remember as soon as the announcement was made, the next time I saw Camilla she had her own bodyguard. Protection is important for the royals and they don’t waste time.”

When their love story was dramatised in The Crown, Charles popped the question to his green-fingered partner in the greenhouse. However, Charles and Camilla have released no details of their real-life engagement, aside from the mother-of-two – who shares Laura and Tom with her ex-husband Andrew Parker Bowles – making a coy comment about Charles getting down on one knee.

Camilla smiling and showing off her ring in February 2005© Getty Images
Camilla showed off her 'heirloom' ring, which previously belonged to the Queen Mother

She told The Telegraph: "Of course. What else?"

Charles presented his second wife with a "royal family heirloom" engagement ring which previously belonged to his late grandmother, the Queen Mother. The art deco style ring features a five-carat emerald-cut diamond in the centre flanked by three diamond baguettes on each side.

Charles wore his beloved signet ring on his wedding day© Getty Images
Charles and Camilla got married in a civil ceremony two months after getting engaged

The Queen Mother previously wore the rock in 1985, but it was debuted by Camilla in February 2005. She stepped out in a red dress, a pearl necklace and her new diamond on her left hand, which she held up for the cameras. 

Following their wedding in April 2005, which included a civil ceremony at Windsor Guildhall and a religious blessing, the couple have kept their relationship largely private. 

Charles and Camilla at Windsor following their wedding© Getty Images
The couple tied the knot in Windsor on 9 April

Camilla shared a rare insight into her marriage during an interview with Vogue for her 75th birthday, stating they have to carve out time in the day to see each other amid their busy work schedules.

"It's not easy sometimes, but we do always try to have a point in the day when we meet," she said. "Sometimes it's like ships passing in the night, but we always sit down together and have a cup of tea and discuss the day."

The couple have been spending more time at home together over the past few weeks after Charles scaled back his public appearances following his cancer diagnosis. Camilla is said to have been a pillar of strength for her husband, who discovered his cancer following treatment for an enlarged prostate in January.

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